Walk-Up Music by Paul Watsky was, for me, a much needed return to reading poetry. If the name Watsky sounds familiar you are, perhaps, thinking of Paul’s son George, who is a poet, rapper, and the reason I knew to look up Walk-Up Music. I went into reading cautiously partly because while I respect and enjoy Watsky (of the George variety) as a musician and poet, it would be a little strange if he were super critical of his own dad’s work. However Watsky (of the Paul variety) did not disappoint and far exceeded any and all expectations I had going in.
I have, in the past, read books of poetry in which the writing itself was technically good, but I could not relate to the subject matter and it put me off. Most of Watsky’s poems I related to, understood, and enjoyed. He is, it seems, an avid baseball fan. I can watch a game and understand what’s happening, but when it comes to stats I’m lost and names mean nothing to me. Which, now that I’ve read it back, seems a good metaphor for how I felt in reading his poems about baseball. Despite having little knowledge on the subject matter (baseball) in his poems Cain’s Perfecto and Victory Parade I was swept up in the emotion of each piece. I found myself, instead of losing interest, wanting to look up everything I didn’t understand so I could go back and feel the poems to their fullest.
Past my own lack of knowledge I have nothing negative to say about Watsky’s book. I reveled in the poetry. I’ve missed the feeling of words dripping slow like honey or pop popping like pop rocks because they’ve been so perfectly placed. Watsky filled that and every other poetical need I didn’t know I had. He was funny, clever, sad and I’ve just discovered this is his second book so I’m going to have to get ahold of his first one. In the meantime I’ll be looking up baseball stats and names.
This is the first book I’ve read in a while that I’ve felt the need to pull out my commonplace book and start making entries. Below are the entries I made, so if you’d like a taste of what you’ll get in Walk-Up Music, read on!
Commonplace Book Entries
“in an office / building constructed entirely / from dream.” -I Am Visiting My Childhood by Paul Watsky
“The less he could walk the more shoes / my father bought.” -Mort de Seymore by Paul Watsky
“Mountains couldn’t / care less. Grasses / won’t lift / a finger. Clouds, / those airheads, / still congealing to clotted / gray, will carry / what they carry — fire if not / water, defunct / covenants if / not / flakes.” -Squaw Valley Pan Shot by Paul Watsky
“the Topanga / yurt — so exotic one can’t help / but sneeze.” -Were I a House by Paul Watsky
“Yet the Self keeps its door locked. / I’d have arisen and gone, sighs my mind.” –I will arise and go now, says my brain, but by Paul Watsky
“So psycho- / analytically speaking I’m a dickhead. / We’d not have got along, Freud wanted / to sport the only dick in town.” -Auto-exegesis by Paul Watsky
“Oh, / you dear cadavers, every possibility / remains open — except / revenance in the original / flesh.” -Xmas Card To My Dead by Paul Watsky
“she smiles, or refuses / to cancel the prior / moment’s smile / and indulge fall- / ingness,” -When Late in the Second Decade of Her Parkinson’s She Falls by Paul Watsky
“And whatever / else one might want / to say about a hot, muggy morning it treated / everybody alike out there on / the street until some of us caught air / conditioned cabs.” -Leveler by Paul Watsky